Rob Ford meets with the anti-Ford, aka Dalton McGuinty
Rob Ford and Dalton McGuinty are about as different politicians are one could find working within a single kilometre of each other. McGuinty has developed a reputation for careful, technocratic and boring politics, while Rob Ford hasn’t, so much. About the only thing they have in common is that they’re both invested in the fate of Toronto’s public transit plans. So they met today to start the ball rolling on just that. According to the Globe and Mail, things went well:
The message from the Premier’s office: The province won’t go ahead with a transit plan the city doesn’t want. And Mr. Ford has made clear he doesn’t want Transit City, the multibillion-dollar light-rail plan the province has already spent $130-million on.
And in Mr. Ford’s mind, he doesn’t need council’s approval to kibosh Transit City entirely.
“As you know, there was never a vote on council for Transit City, and if there was I’d like to see that. We never voted on Transit City. As you know, (incoming TTC chair) Karen Stintz is a very, very capable councillor – she’s setting up our TTC commission with some very good councillors,” he told a crush of reporters outside the Premier’s office afterward.
There’s already quite a bit of discussion about whether Ford is right about this. On the first reading, he isn’t: council voted several times on important stages of Transit City, and while nobody seems to have labelled those votes “Transit City lives or dies by this decision,” Ford was certainly there for some of them. These were votes on things like environmental assessments, engineering studies, and amendments to the city’s Official Plan. These were still council votes in favour of Transit City, and it’s odd to see Ford seemingly deny they happened.
That said, Ford has a point, even if he’s making it badly (how often will those words be written between now and 2014?): David Miller and the province started the ball rolling on Transit City well before the full council gave its approval. Chalk that up to the TTC’s arm’s length-status. Where the TTC needs the city’s help, the council steps in—but as Shelley Carroll mentioned last week, the TTC has a huge amount of leeway so long as they stay within their budget.
Ford clearly hopes that Transit City will die by the same sword it lived by, without bringing it to the full council for a vote. We’d bet against that: even some of Ford’s supporters are making pro-council noises on this one.
• Rob Ford, Dalton McGuinty agree to hash out new Toronto transit plan [Globe and Mail]
• Council ‘never voted on Transit City,’ Mayor Ford claims [National Post]
• Ford tight-lipped on transit after McGuinty meeting [Toronto Star]